BP Jonsson skrev:

>>That's nothing compared to the Minnesotan accent, with its beautiful,
>>yet funny, intonation patterns.  To me, that was the funniest part of
>>Fargo.  I mean, that accent is just so hard to take seriously, I mean,
>>they could say "Ja, my wife was butchered and cut into a million
>>pieces", and it just wouldn't sound like a bad thing.  Okay, slight
>>exaggeration, but it does sound just funny.  :-)
>I met one American who thought that intonation was due to Swedish/Norwegian
>substrate influence.  His imitation surely sounded as if that could be
>true, but then his wife was Swedish...  Altho most Swedish and Norwegian
>dialects have a system of distinct word tones, which gives the sentence
>intonation a quality that is peculiar to speakers of other Germanic
>languages, they are not uniform among themselves.  I guess Matt is the only
>one who can judge this theory! :)

Well, since I've been called upon to offer an opinion...

Speaking as someone who used to speak Swedish, and who has lots of
Swedish relatives from Nebraska and suchlike places, I definitely hear the
influence of Scandinavian immigrants on the vowels of Upper Midwestern
English (much as the vowels of the inner city dialect of East Los Angeles
have been strongly influenced by several generations of immigration from
Mexico and Central America). However, I do think the accents in "Fargo"
were exaggerated a bit, especially the sing-song quality of Marge's speech
and the unbelievably tense vowels used by Mrs. Lundegaard (the kidnapped


Matt Pearson
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UCLA Linguistics Department
405 Hilgard Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1543